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Celebrating excellence in healthcare at HX24

Every February, thousands of healthcare leaders from across the country flock to Orlando, FL, for Press Ganey’s annual Human Experience (HX) Conference. Our annual event is an occasion to reflect on the past year, recognize achievements big and small, discuss new advancements, and innovate for the future.

But the future of healthcare doesn't belong solely to technology and algorithms. It thrives on the human touch—compassion, empathy, and the unwavering perseverance of the individuals who have dedicated their lives to this noble profession. At the end of the day, it’s the people who make up the lifeblood of the industry.

At this year’s HX24, we honored six healthcare professionals and two organizations who represent exceptional leadership in patient, consumer, and employee experience; nursing excellence; and safety. Meet our 2024 executive award winners below.

HX24 CEO of the Year: Madeline Bell, President and CEO, Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP): Madeline Bell is Press Ganey’s CEO of the Year. Her visionary leadership in humanizing healthcare paved the way for success during her 41-year tenure at CHOP. Bell consistently demonstrates empathetic and integral leadership, inspiring over 28,000 employees in the $4.1 billion health system and research institute that routinely ranks among the top pediatric institutions in the country.

HX24 Lifetime Achievement Award: Kurt Newman, President Emeritus, Children’s National Hospital: Press Ganey’s Lifetime Achievement Award honors influential leaders in their organization and community over the course of their career. This year’s award goes to Kurt Newman at Children’s National Hospital. After nearly four decades, Dr. Newman retired from the organization in 2024, leaving behind a legacy of transformative leadership. He was instrumental in developing the bold vision for the Sheikh Zayed Institute for Pediatric Surgical Innovation, with a mission of adapting surgery practices for pediatrics, making it as painless and minimally invasive as possible.

HX24 Health System of the Year Award: Methodist Health System (Dallas, Texas): Methodist Health System is transforming healthcare delivery at the system-wide level. An example of this mission: their Patient-Centered Accountable Care Organization and robust wellness programs, which integrate and deliver high-quality, patient-centric experiences. This commitment transcends tradition. It's the culmination of nearly a century of innovation—both honoring their legacy while pioneering the future of care.

HX24 HRO Foundation Award: Northeast Georgia Health System (NGHS) (Gainesville, GA): Safety, quality, and high reliability form the bedrock of healthcare excellence. Embarking on this journey a decade ago, Northeast Georgia Health System evolved and refined their daily management systems through a series of proactive initiatives in 2016, 2018, and 2022. Their commitment to safety and high reliability has yielded impressive results, and elevated quality of care for all who walk through their doors. Of note: NGHS has experienced zero Serious Safety Events for over a year, as well as zero adverse clinical events like hospital-acquired infections, pressure injuries, and falls—a testament to the exceptional quality of their nursing care.

HX24 CXO of the Year Award: Sven Gierlinger, Chief Experience Officer, Northwell Health: Sven Gierlinger, hospitality guru turned healthcare champion, brings his unwavering dedication to exceptional patient experiences to Northwell Health as their SVP and Chief Experience Officer. Every step of the journey is meticulously considered—he crafts patient experiences that prioritize comfort and well-being. For example, he championed Northwell’s food transformation by bringing in Michelin-starred chefs to revamp how food is prepared and presented to patients. Beyond the patient experience, Gierlinger isn't just a leader; he's a culture architect. He's built an environment where innovation, collaboration, and patient-centered care thrive. This translates directly to organizational growth, and fierce customer loyalty.

HX24 Physician of the Year Award: Kavita Bhavan, MD, MHS, Chief Innovation Officer, Parkland Health: Dr. Kavita Bhavan's leadership transcends exceptional care and a tireless commitment to improving the Human Experience. Her compassion also extends beyond the clinic and into the community, exemplified by Parkland Health’s "Annie's Place"—a short-term on-site childcare program addressing access challenges to help get parents and guardians, who otherwise might not have childcare options, through the door. 

HX24 Nurse of the Year Award – Nurse Leader: David Willis, BSN, RN, CEN, Nursing Operations Manager, Orlando Health (ORMC): Peers say David Willis, HX24 Nurse of the Year – Nurse Leader, is the "nurse every patient wants." He’s lauded for his exceptional care, tireless innovation, and a dedication that fuels team resilience and pride. He's further celebrated as a true inspiration and role model to his colleagues at Orlando Health. This award spotlights his pursuit of nursing excellence and staff education, as well as the immense impact he leaves on patients, colleagues, and the practice of nursing itself.

HX24 Nurse of the Year Award – Front-Line Clinical Nurse: Annielyn Azor-Ocampo, MSN, RN, CWOCN, DAPWCA, Wound Ostomy Continence Nurse (WOCN), Cedars-Sinai Medical Center: Nominated by her peers for the Nurse of the Year Award – Front-Line Clinical Nurse, Annielyn Azor-Ocampo is known for her dedication to improving patient experiences through innovative care and strong workforce collaboration. Known for her kindness, compassionate approach, and ability to connect with those in her charge, she consistently delivers on the promise of high-quality care and an exceptional patient experience.

Navigating change in healthcare requires passionate, resilient leaders who can help organizations—and the industry—evolve without losing sight of a simple truth: that healthcare is about humans. And, while we are mission-driven to deliver high-quality care and optimal clinical outcomes, humanity, and the Human Experience, are the spark that ignites excellence.

Congratulations once again to all of our HX24 executive award winners! 

About the author

Press Ganey, a leading healthcare performance improvement solutions company, offers an integrated suite of solutions that put Human Experience at the center of healthcare enterprise transformation. Delivered through a cutting-edge digital platform built on a foundation of data security, Press Ganey solutions address patient experience, healthcare consumer experience, workforce engagement, safety, clinical excellence and more. Guided by its team of renowned healthcare thought leaders, Press Ganey works with more than 41,000 healthcare facilities to reduce patient suffering, enhance caregiver resilience and improve the overall safety, quality and experience of care. Press Ganey is a PG Forsta company.

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